It was the highly anticipated match-up between the top two teams in the Western Conference, and it didn’t disappoint.
The San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks went goal-for-goal in the opening period Tuesday, going to their respective dressing rooms tied 3-3 after 20 minutes.
The scoring didn’t come at nearly the same pace the rest of the evening, however things got heated when Sharks center Andrew Desjardins caught Blackhawks veteran winger Jamal Mayers with a devastating – and controversial – open-ice hit and was ejected from the game for a match penalty, hit to the head.
Blackhawks’ defenseman Duncan Keith immediately jumped in to fight Desjardins. The Hawks, thanks to goals from Patrick Kane in the second and third periods, went on to a 5-3 victory.
“We’re trying to get that out of our game,” Mayers told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s unfortunate that happened but we got a power play out of it and most importantly, we won the game.”
Sharks head coach Todd McLellan took an opposite stance, believing Desjardins didn’t deserved a match penalty.
“It was a terrible call,” McLellan told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I don’t know if we were going to be able to come back or not, but at that point we were still in the game. We had every opportunity to win. We should have been on a four-minute power play.”
Eichel makes everyone look silly, Varlamov gets the early hook
You know, with Connor McDavid hogging so much attention, it’s about time that Jack Eichel provided us with another awesome goal.
That tally came at the Colorado Avalanche’s (and especially Semyon Varlamov‘s) expense as that was the Buffalo Sabres first shot of the game.
Patrick Roy apparently felt like this just wasn’t Varlamov’s afternoon, as Colorado’s head coach decided to pull him after Varly allowed two goals on as many shots. Evander Kane nabbed the other goal for Buffalo.
You can watch the goal in the video above, which reminds us that “Eichel Tower” might not be a unique pun.
To be fair to Varlamov, Calvin Pickard has already allowed a goal as well. The Sabres are currently off to a 3-0 lead, and maybe a small roll considering how well they played against Montreal on Friday?
NHL on NBC: Red Wings, Bruins fight for Atlantic positioning
While Jeff Blashill continues to establish himself following up Mike Babcock, Claude Julien recently hit a milestone with his 500th win and earned plaudits from CSNNE.com as one of the best coaches in the league.
(Speaking of milestones, Brad Richards is expected to play in his 1,100th game.)
Boston currently holds the second spot in the Atlantic with 66 points in 55 games played, but Detroit is right behind them with 65 in as many contests. With the Tampa Bay Lightning hovering nearby, each team likely recognizes this as an important game.
Goalie nods: Backups battle as Kinkaid faces Enroth
The New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings prefer to lean on workhorse goalies Cory Schneider and Jonathan Quick respectively, but Sunday presents a change of pace.
In the Kings’ case, Jhonas Enroth is playing in part because of (what Los Angeles hopes is) a minor injury to Quick.
It’s true that the under-sized goalie sports a mediocre 4-4-1 record, but he’s given the Kings legitimate chances to win games considering his impressive (especially for a backup) save percentage of .925. Perhaps he can earn a few more reps if he plays well in what may be a tight game?
Speaking of earning more reps, Keith Kinkaid must continue to work to prove that he’s able to make the jump from AHL goalie to at least an NHL backup. The Kings aren’t likely to make it easy for him, either.